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An echo of Alabama

October 18th, 2008 @ 6:44 pm – by lotus · 1 Comment

At Slate, Alabamian Diane McWhorter (author of Carry Me Home and A Dream of Freedom) writes:

I finally understand the switch of doom that tripped somewhere deep in my soul during Sarah Palin’s speech at the Republican National Convention. Her rhetorical star turn—the exuberant snideness, the gut-level rapport with the audience, the frank pleasure at being a yokel on the big stage—reprised the great gifts of the politician who dominated my youth: George Corley Wallace, perpetual governor of Alabama and frequent candidate for president of the less-than-United States.

U.S. Rep John Lewis of Georgia also noticed the similarity. He issued a statement last week accusing Palin and John McCain of “sowing the seeds of hatred and division.” He invoked “another period, in the not too distant past,” when George Wallace “created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who only desired to exercise their constitutional rights.”

So how is Sarah Palin like—and not like—George Wallace? And how much is John McCain relying on tactics Wallace used? The answers: more than she can probably know and more than he appears to have admitted to himself. …

This textured read includes some Wallace history I either never knew or had forgotten — the passage about his addressing an audience including two men who would, one week later, bomb the 16th Street Baptist Church and kill four little girls attending Sunday school, resonates deeply. I recommend it, even as its last sentence haunts me:

“Let us hope that [McCain] will not also be afflicted with George Wallace’s compulsion to atone when it is too late.”

(h/t Kycol)

Filed Under: Herald & Examiner


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